Monday 29 February 2016

Galloping Gargoyles

To coin a phrase from Harry Potter no less. I think these examples of madness from the exteriors of a couple of the Oxford Colleges certainly fit the bill. The first one definitely has the look of a female house elf about her!

 These faces never cease to amaze me!


Sunday 28 February 2016

"You're The One That I Want"

I started at my local comprehensive school in September 1978. The film "Grease" was on release and as a treat for my 12th birthday, my then best friend Nicky and her parents took me to see it. I remember thoroughly enjoying it except the bit where the Pink Ladies try to pierce Sandy's ears. Any implied references to hanky panky or unplanned pregnancies completely went over my head! Afterwards I went down to the record department in WH Smith and spent a whopping 50p [daylight robbery when you think back to just how long ago this was] out of my saved pocket money on my first ever single "You're the one that I want"

Here's the doubt a tad cheesy but I still enjoy this catchy little song.

And here's a slightly different is just so in contrast that it made me chuckle. I can only listen to it for a short while though as this genre of music along with opera makes me reach for the off button. Each to their own!


Saturday 27 February 2016

Sometimes I Just Need Reminding....

I am excellent at turning a molehill into a mountain at times...I'm better at spotting when I'm catastrophising but I am still usually halfway through a mental drama worthy of any soap opera story line before I realise! This guy is inspirational.


Friday 26 February 2016

Job Description for Rapunzel?

Seen recently. Sadly I do not possess the required long tresses so I am ineligible!


Thursday 25 February 2016

Sprinkling a bit of magic

Last week my parents went on the Harry Potter studio tour....I wasn't jealous in the slightest....nah...can you hear my little feet stamping from here?!! I have been before so I know how amazing it is and it was fabulous being able to see the photos of the Hogwarts Express which wasn't there when I visited.

Having started off by rereading the first book to refresh my memory before I wrote this I just carried on reading and before I knew it I had reread all of them. I finished the last one just before we went to Oxford earlier this month so you can imagine my excitement when I turned a corner in the city and came across this

Later on we had a nose around Christchurch College. I gazed in awe at The Great Hall [Mr GBT however, was far more nonchalant for he's a Cambridge man..."the other place" as the Porter wryly told me!]

Having recently watched the later HP films I commented afterwards that it bore more than a passing similarity to the one on the studio tour. Only now do I find out that it was actually used in some of the scenes in "The Philosopher's Stone" as was the staircase leading up to it!

With all the furore surrounding the recent release of "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" I expect fans will be pleased to hear that the script is going to be published in book form shortly. For me the magic ended with "The Deathly Hallows" and that's where I shall leave it in my imagination. I shall leave you with a link showing the beautiful artwork by Jim Kay


Wednesday 24 February 2016

Knickers to it!

In this case a rather voluminous pair made of reindeer skin! It seems the best thing to do is ignore what everybody else/ society thinks and follow your passions with a passion. I think do weird rather well actually!


Tuesday 23 February 2016

Treatment of the Dead- Please don't read if squeamish!

Frankly, despite knowing diddly squat about the Pitt Rivers museum, I had low expectations [how I reached this conclusion despite not having done any research is anyone's guess really!] of what I was going to see. Memories of dusty items with yellowing labels stuck in cabinets like the museums of my childhood was just about it. Thankfully, I was wrong....very wrong. Yes, the collections are old but the displays are dynamic and new items are being added all the time.

This one was a bit of a shock and not one I was quite prepared for on a dull Wednesday morning!

Shock, revulsion, beautiful, fascinating...these were all the words that went through my head as I viewed the exhibits that the collectors had brought back from all over the world. Initially seeing what had been done to some of the remains of their enemies by different cultures it seemed barbaric but then I remembered that similar things have happened here and are still happening. Such acts may seem dark but the act of taking a head was socially approved and there to keep order. The processes of creating the shrunken heads [known as tsantas] was incredibly complex. Many were not actually human but those of sloths and monkeys. The examples shown are a mixture. The heads were worn on a string around the neck of the man who had taken it at three ritual feasts in order to transfer the soul within it to the tribal group. After that it served no further use and was then often traded.

To keep the balance there are also cases of beautifully decorated skulls carefully prepared before burial. The hats were to be worn by the skull of a female on the final night of the memorial feast.

There was an alluring beauty to some of these which left me feeling surprisingly moved. The museum has presented the remains very carefully and reading its website it regularly review its displays. Maybe one day these will be returned to their original owners- recently an aborigine was returned on request. I shall be interested to see how this develops over time.


Monday 22 February 2016

Warts and All

If you've ever had warts they are most mysterious things. I was "lucky" enough to pick up a verruca when I went swimming a few years ago which also gave me a couple of warts on my hands. I tried all sorts of  conventional remedies to get shot of them yet all to no avail. The perceived wisdom was that they would one day just disappear. As if by magic after three years they did just that...spooky.

Mind you perhaps had I followed the Oxfordshire "cure" I saw recommended at the Pitt Rivers museum in Oxford I would have been rid of the little blighters a lot earlier...apparently you should find yourself a big, black slug and rub its underside on the offending articles. Charmingly you then are supposed to impale it on a thorn and when it expires then they will be gone. In retrospect I think I'll leave that one.

The museum is absolutely amazing and free. There's an incredible range of artifacts from all over the globe but the contents of certain cases resonated with me more than others. The items relating to folk medicine and magic particularly drew my attention. Everything from mole's feet to stop toothache through to charms carried by thieves which they thought would send their intended victims to sleep!

Many items, stuck with pins, thorns and other sharp items have been found secreted away in chimneys- on view was a piece of clay, a toad, an onion and this a bullock heart shown below. The following photo is of rowan tree crosses and loops and a witch post from Yorkshire which was carved with characteristic the cross and bars. All were intended to stop witches from being able to enter the property and protect the occupants. The silver stoppered bottle belonged to an old lady in Hove and she actually believed it contained a witch!

Mandrake roots. These were grown by Pomona Sprout in Harry Potter and were used to reverse the effects of the pupils who had been petrified by the Basilisk. Their natural form is quite human like and with an added embellishment to increase the similarity they were used as poppets in sympathetic magic.

Finally these two snaps are one of a Siberian shaman spirit doll and a healing necklace. The central disc was believed to be imbued with spiritual powers which would save a sick child when hung around its neck.

There will be more from the museum tomorrow but I think it only fair to warn you that the material is much darker- the treatment of the remains of your enemies. This will include photos that some may not want to view so please give it a miss if you're squeamish. I have mulled over whether or not to post the pictures but the items are on public view to all and the blog and its contents are ultimately my decision and provide me with a record of my memories.


Sunday 21 February 2016

Street Art

With trips to the Cowley Road in Oxford and the North Laines in Brighton under my belt this month I've been privileged to see a lot of fabulous artwork adorning houses and shops. I just love making these unexpected discoveries as I turn round corners. You never know what you might see next!


For any fans of this type of thing the last three are in Brightonx

Saturday 20 February 2016

Sold on the Old

We have had a modern standard lamp on loan from my parents for several years now, but we recently decided to splash out on something a bit more traditional and in keeping with our living room. Now when  I say "splash out" that's probably a bit of an exaggeration if the truth be told. Honestly I did step over thresholds of shops I haven't been to in years in a bid to find something to my taste. I ever the cheapest one I liked started at £700 and would have been too big for the space available. I always did have expensive taste and I really did try to buy something new. However, old habits die hard and I "failed" spectacularly at the first hurdle....except to my eyes I didn't. Instead I bought according to my own beliefs from the wonderful second hand market...helped a charity which supports local concerns with both the purchase of the stand and lamp, recycled and did not create a hole for a new one to be created. I am delighted and amazed at how ingrained this behaviour has become.

In the end we plumped for something very plain as I already have many unusual treasures in the room. Oh yes and did we spend £ of course not....£10.50 all in. Result!


Friday 19 February 2016

Friday words

"Nothing is impossible, the word itself says I'm possible"
Audrey Hepburn

The photo was taken this week on a visit down to Brighton.

Thursday 18 February 2016


The church of SS Peter and Paul turned out to be a bit of a stunner really. My heart always sinks when I read that the Victorians have meddled with the interior in their obsessive drive to "improve" [call that sanitise] everything, but for once they left well alone. Treasures abound- whether it be the early 14th century brass of a priest which is one of the oldest in the country, the recumbent tomb of Sir William Fitzwaryn with his crossed legs showing he was a crusader [this is a theory only] with his wife Amica alongside him [they were the grandparents of Dick Whittington's wife] or crusader crosses etched into the column bases there is much to please the eye.

However, it is the much more bonkers stuff that holds my attention. Bearing in mind these images would have been ordered and paid for by the church it makes all of the strangeness and at times downright bawdiness even more confusingly head scratching. Those who viewed them at the time would have understood them one assumes- whether they were a visual joke or a dire warning of the consequences of immoral conduct who knows. Some are hilarious and others I find somewhat disturbing.

The wooden ones are roof bosses and are not easily seen with the naked eye. Judging by the amount of dust it's been many years since they've been clearly visible, but some retain traces of paint so must have shown up a great deal more originally.Other than them being old [the hammerbeam roof is 15th century]and fairly crude in execution the information in the church makes absolutely no mention of them which is rather bizarre in itself.

Foliate head aka greenman

Possible mouth puller

Couple of feline type of creatures. Interestingly the cat doesn't feature in the Bible but I'm sure many churches would have had them if only to keep the rodent numbers down.

As for these....haven't the faintest idea except one figure is apparently swallowing a human.

These meanwhile are described as "lively 15th century corbels". These are at eye level and are great fun with their hilarious expressions. The first chap probably has tooth ache poor soul.

This final one though....well I was absolutely clueless so I sought advice from online chums who are far more knowledgeable about such matters. The verdict was that he was scratching and this was most probably down to him having worms. Ewww!

You've got to love a bit of church rudery now and again and this one certainly delivered!


The Knight of the Garter Stitch

 In my time I've come across knights made from stone and wood, but this is my first encounter with a knitted knight. We came upon this f...